After a mostly drama-free training camp (save for Torey Krug and Reilly Smith’s silent holdouts) and seven tedious preseason games, the Bruins’ 2014-15 regular season finally begins on Wednesday (7:30 p.m., NBCSN) at TD Garden as they take on the Flyers. Much is again expected of the B’s, who won the President’s Trophy last season and return the Vezina Trophy winner in Tuukka Rask, the Selke Trophy winner in Patrice Bergeron and the runner-up for the Norris Trophy in Zdeno Chara. The Bruins own 10/1 odds, according to Bovada, to win the Stanley Cup next spring.
A look at a few storylines to keep tabs on:
1. No trouble on the top line
For salary cap reasons, Boston couldn’t retain future Hall of Famer Jarome Iginla (30 goals, 31 assists, plus-34, eight game-winning goals) who had a solid season in Black and Gold in 2013-14. Iginla, who will be facing his old team in a Columbus Day matinee next Monday, took his talents to Colorado.
Loui Eriksson appears to be the winner, by default, of a coveted spot on the top line with David Krejci and Milan Lucic. Though he played 61 games last season, his first season in Boston, it was hard to get much of a read on the former Dallas Star. We heard about his skill and versatility but what most saw last season was a finesse player that didn’t do anything above average. Maybe with a clean bill of health and more talent around him, he will be able to start to prove his worth, and that Boston’s front office didn’t give up on Tyler Seguin (37 goals, 47 assists in 2013-14 with Dallas) too soon.
2. The Patriot Way
The sports and teams are completely different but when Johnny Boychuk was traded to the Islanders, less than a week before the start of the regular season, for two second-round picks and a third-round pick, you couldn’t help but think of the Patriots’ questionable trade of guard Logan Mankins to the Buccaneers. Both players were respected and dependable members of many winning teams but were ultimately casualties of the salary cap. Only time will tell how much Boychuk’s departure affects the Bruins, although for what it’s worth, all the players that spoke to the media last Saturday and even head coach Claude Julien, seemed pretty upset about it.
3. Tuukka Time, all the time
For the third straight season, there will be a new player backing up star goaltender Tuukka Rask. In 2013, it was Anton Khudobin and last year it was Chad Johnson (17-4-3). Khudobin is now the starting goaltender in Carolina while Johnson is the backup for the Islanders. Step right up Niklas Svedberg. The 25-year-old Swede has been the starter the last two seasons in Providence and he won his lone appearance with the big club last year. If he should falter in his rare outings, Malcolm Subban will be waiting for his shot. P.K’s younger brother had some impressive moments in the preseason.
Follow Metro Boston Bruins beat writer Richard Slate on Twitter: @RichSlate